“Quicker, quicker, quicker!! Keep your eyes up! Let’s go, let’s go let’s go!”
Former Oklahoma State and NFL linebacker Kenyatta Wright shouted this and other words of encouragement to the high school linebackers who recently participated in the Prep Redzone Football Showcase in Owasso.
Wright, who’s now an assistant coach in his hometown of Vian, was one of several coaches providing instruction during the camp.
Approximately 125 high school football players from around the state representing the Class of 2022-2024 participated in a variety of drills and one-on-one competition in front of several college coaches. For many, it was their first opportunity to gain some exposure after last summer was lost due to COVID-19.
“It’s massive,” claimed Prep Redzone Oklahoma’s Michael Knight on the exposure created by attending the camp. “Everything was shut down last year and they didn’t get these opportunities.”
“It’s all about exposure,” added Knight. “To be able to have this event where they can come out and compete against the best, be coached by the best and be covered by the best, there’s a lot of opportunities they can take advantage of.”
Athletes were measured and weighed, and tested in the 40-yard dash, standing broad jump and shuttle runs. They also took part in position drills and participated in some spirited one-on-one competitions.
“I loved it,” stated Class of 2022 Sand Springs linebacker Gabe Brown. “It was great competition. The best part was competing against other kids and to see how I measured up against them.”
“I came here to get better,” admitted Booker T. Washington Class of 2024 defensive back Issac Covington. “It shows me what I’ve got to compete against and who I’ve got to do better than.”
Owasso head coach Bill Blankenship was happy to host the event, which included several Ram players.
“I encourage my guys to go any place where there’s going to be college coaches, en masse,” added Blankenship. “If you go to an institutional camp, sometimes the only people that are there are that particular school. I just think the summer is limited and you ought to give yourself opportunities to be seen by a lot more people.”
Owasso senior linebacker Jake Clifton couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete on his home turf. He attended a similar camp the day before at Air Force and drove through the night from Colorado Springs to participate.
“I wanted to be with my guys and see what the competition is like,” said Clifton, who turned heads after clocking an impressive 4.52 in the 40 during individual testing.
The opportunity to receive tips from a former NFL player like Wright was a bonus for Clifton, who already holds 10 college offers.
“It was really good, especially drill-wise,” said Clifton on the camp. “He put us through some drills that I’d never done before from the linebacker position. It’s putting some discipline in my game.”
For the college coaches in attendance, it was an opportunity to get an up-close look at many prep players, many of whom are just starting the recruiting process.
“It just helps us see what’s out there,” said Central Oklahoma head coach Nick Bobeck on camps like the Prep Redzone Showcase. “Being able to see a bunch of kids in one spot is always helpful, especially high school kids. It’s a really good thing for recruiting and for these kids as well.”
“It’s another piece of the puzzle,” added Bobeck. “Nothing is going to replace the old school way of building relationships, but if you can’t get them to your camp, this allows you to get out and go find them.”
Blankenship was impressed by the turnout and the skill level of the camp’s participants.
“I think there were some D-I guys out there,” claimed Blankenship. “The opportunity to work in front of people who will have your information and take it back and be able to watch them is invaluable.”